Liquor lobby backs .08%

Beer industry won't endorse tougher law, but won't fight it

Apr 11, 2001 - The liquor industry has agreed to support a lower threshold for drunken driving. It said that it will urge state legislatures to lower the legal standard for drunken driving to 0.08% blood-alcohol content. Most states have a 0.10% standard, but federal legislation has made it costly for them if they don't quickly move to 0.08%.


Representatives of the beer industry, while not endorsing the 0.08% blood-alcohol standard, said they won't oppose it.

At a news conference in Washington, D.C., with Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and Mothers Against Drunk Driving President Millie Webb, liquor trade group representatives made their pledge to push for the tighter standard, which proponents claim could save 500 lives a year.

Legislation signed last fall by President Clinton would take away 2% of federal highway money from states that fail to adopt the 0.08 standard by 2004.

Currently, 21 states plus the District of Columbia have a 0.08 standard.

Industry officials said they would push the 0.08 standard -- roughly the equivalent of a 170-pound man consuming four beers in an hour on an empty stomach -- as part of a package of laws aimed at motorists who repeatedly drive drunk.

"You've got to get this repeat offender off the highways," said Peter Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council, the liquor industry's trade group.

After years of decline, the number of deaths categorized as alcohol-related edged up from 15,876 in 1999 to 16,068 in 2000, about 38% of all traffic fatalities.

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